Rocky Mountain Altitude 770 MSL Rally Edition
Size Tested: Medium
Complete Build: (Here)
Weight: 13.7 kg (30.2 lbs) w/ 443g Time MX6 pedals
Test Location: Whistler, BC
Rider: 5’9”, 155 lbs.
The Altitude 770 MSL Rally Edition comes out of Rocky Mountain’s Vancouver headquarters, and is designed for the rooty, rocky awesomeness that is the pacific northwest.
The Altitude is Rocky Mountain’s 150mm-travel Enduro / All Mountain bike, and the Rally Edition is the same frame, but with parts that are turned up a notch.
The Rally edition of the Altitude comes in two flavors: the 770 Carbon MSL (tested here), and the 750 aluminum version.
The non-Rally edition Altitude also comes in three carbon and three aluminum versions.
The 770 MSL Rally Edition has a carbon front triangle, an aluminum rear triangle, and is built around Rocky Mountain’s “Smoothlink” suspension platform to achieve 150mm of rear-wheel travel.
The Smoothlink suspension design puts the main pivot just above and in front of the bottom bracket, and it has a pivot on the chainstay just in front of and above the rear axle. This design is found on most of Rocky Mountain’s full suspension bikes.
At first glance, this bears some similarities to the Specialized horst link, but the Smoothlink is different because the chainstay pivot is above the axle rather than below it, a la the horst link design.
According to Rocky Mountain, the location of their chainstay pivot increases pedaling efficiency through a wider range of gears. The basic idea is that both the main pivot near the bottom bracket and the pivot on the chainstays are in line and parallel to the average position of your chain.
In theory, this means that when you’re cranking on the pedals and there’s tension on the chain, it doesn’t affect the suspension because that chain tension is being resisted by the chainstay, and there’s not enough of an angle on the pivot for the chain tension to move (or resist) the suspension movement.
In reality, I didn’t find the Rally Edition to be a particularly efficient pedaler, but I’ll get into that more in the Riding Impressions section below.
The shock is driven by the seatstays, and there’s a short swinglink near the shock that both stiffens up the rear end of the frame, and allows Rocky Mountain to dial in the rate curve on the shock.
One of the highlights of the Altitude frame is most definitely the Ride-9 system that the shock is attached to. Basically, the Ride-9 system is a square aluminum chip interlocked into another square aluminum chip, and the shock mounting bolt goes through a corner of the inner chip.
By unscrewing the mounting bolt and turning the orientation of the chip, you can easily adjust both the bike’s geometry as well as the rate curve of the suspension.
There was a time when there were lots of companies that offered adjustability along these lines, but many of them scaled back their adjustability because so many riders were setting up their frames incorrectly.
Rocky Mountain solves this problem by providing a clear, simple graphic to help riders set the Ride-9 chip where it should be…
…along with a video providing further explanation.
I played around with the Ride-9 chip and found a noticeable difference in ride quality at the different settings. I spent most of my time with the chip in the aggressive / forward position, and played around with moving the chip up and down from there.
The forward position kept the bike low and slack, which I liked, but I did put the chip in the center position on a few occasions, which made the bike a little easier to manage on steep climbs.